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Find your identity to create loyal customers

Sam Dantzler, Columnist
August 6, 2012
Filed under Columns

“Why do you work here?”

This is a question I ask of nearly every employee when I go in-house to do training. Responses range from, “No idea what else I’d be doing” to “I love motorcycles” to the “The family atmosphere … .”

Question: Do you think those answers are unique to your dealership? If I take my wife out for a nice dinner at Morton’s Steak House, I know exactly how it will be different than the Golden Corral (for some reason she resists the “chocolate wunderfall” at GC …). Why should I come to your dealership and buy a bike? Why buy it from you?

The fact of the matter is that very, very few people can give me a consistent, crystal clear answer to this seemingly simple question. So if you’re not really different, and if there’s not a set “show” for the customers (read: Disney, Morton’s, Lexus, etc.), then as a customer I’m left to fall back on features, benefits, logic and price to differentiate you. This is not a logical industry. Stop trying to make it one.

Your brain is made up of two parts. One part can handle amazing amounts of data and comes to logical conclusions. The other part just wants to “feel right.” That’s why when something just “feels right,” all logic goes out the window. You’ve just gotta have that ________________, no matter how unreasonable it may be. The flip side is that all the logic in the world can be pushing you to a certain decision, but it doesn’t “feel right.” The best example of this is when a potential employee has a great resume, interviews well and all signs look good … but it just doesn’t “feel right.” What does your gut tell you? FYI, it’s not your gut … it’s that part of your brain that “feels.”

There are libraries of books written on this, and I’m constantly amazed at human behavior with decisions that “feel right,” yet on paper look ridiculous. Here are a few examples:

• Why do chocolate cookies make people spend way more on a house than they should?
• Why does a warning label on a pack of cigarettes actually cause a desire for another cigarette?
• Why, when using a credit card, do people spend more than they can afford?

If it “feels right,” we do it. If it doesn’t, it must rationally make sense. The answer to the sales troubles of today’s powersports dealers is to simply make it “feel right.” When this natural phenomenon occurs, people want to have your brand. They want to have it from your dealership. And they want to buy it from you.

There are three levels that need to be addressed:

1. If you make it clear who you are through why you exist (as an employee, as a dealership, etc.), customers who identify with that image want to do business with you. We all know who Disney is. When it comes to a family fantasy vacation, I want to go to Disney as I know what I’ll get. We also all know who Harley-Davidson is. The company has gone so far to use five words to aid every marketing decision it makes. “Bond,” “Fire,” “Muscle,” and “Icon” all swirl around the verb, “to Rebel.” If you identify with that image, which 34 percent of all riders reportedly do, there is simply no other choice of motorcycle for you. And although I’m not aware of other manufacturers putting it into words, we can extrapolate the same thing from brands like Triumph, Ducati, Victory, Zero, etc. We know who they are and what they represent. As a result, if we (the consumers) fit that mold, we flock to that brand. Think of Apple. Think of Southwest Airlines.

2. Now, why should I buy from your dealership? Are you the community dealership that sponsors church and police events? Are you the “Stack ’em deep and sell ’em cheap” dealer? Or maybe you’re the “Premium price for a premium experience” place to go? It doesn’t matter which you are; it does matter that people know who you are and that you’re consistent. From there, those who fit that image will want to do business with you. In other words, where might you go out for a drink? Karaoke bar? Martini bar? Live music venue? Sports bar? You know what kind of bar it is before you walk in the door, and you go to that one because you identify with that “vibe.” Who are you as a dealership?

3. The employee must figure out who he or she is, and why the customer should do business with him or her specifically. Can I call this employee every night and day for advice? Is this employee the one who always goes on the group rides? Is he or she the one I “feel good” working with?

Repeat customers may or may not be loyal customers. Many will repeat purchases due to enticements or manipulations (price, rebates, free helmet, location). Loyal customers, however, are willing to incur an inconvenience (driving past three dealers to get to you) or will pay a premium to do business with you. So do you have repeat customers, or loyal ones? Which do you want?

Sam Dantzler is the founder of Sam’s Powersports Garage, a membership website dedicated to best practices and all-staff training. He can be reached at sam@samspowersportsgarage.com.

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